YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The drop in oil prices worldwide is pushing prices down at the pump. Oil was up over $100 per barrel last summer and has plunged to about $50.
Chris Faulkner, CEO of Texas-based Breitling Energy, said the level of production and the amount of drilling in the last five years is going to be hard to sustain.
Faulkner and Jennifer Krill, director of the environmental group Earthworks, took part in satellite interviews this week and spoke on the future of production in the United States.
Faulkner said hydraulic fracturing has opened vast natural gas resources in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania and drilling is not as profitable as it has been, causing companies to delay new wells until prices come back up.
“The problem is what we plan to do between and now and then. If that’s two years or five years, the reality is there is going to be an impact that is going to happen now,” Faulkner said.
While companies such as Shell and BP have already laid-off workers in other parts of the country, Valley Congressman Bill Johnson predicts the impact in this region won’t be as bad.
“You’ve got cracker plants moving into our area. That is going to continue,” Johnson said.
There could still be other ripple effects. Oil and gas-related business paid for paving on nearly 40 miles of road just in Mahoning County – more than half of all the work done this year.
“That money will not be on the table if oil and gas doesn’t continue to roll,” Faulkner said.
Krill argues we should be working to move away from oil and gas and boost the use of cleaner solar and wind energy.
“Why should we keep investing in dirty fossil fuels? Why should we keep risking our health and our water?” Krill said.
Krill said that thinking is why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in his state earlier this week.
In Ohio, Athens passed a measure in November to ban fracking. A movement to ban the process has failed three times during elections in Youngstown.